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Woman Swallows Grill Brush Bristle, Sues Manufacturer

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

A woman has sued a barbecue brush manufacturer after she swallowed a broken brush bristle while eating a hamburger, landing her in the hospital.

Deborah Lamont of Presque Isle, Maine, is suing Precision Brush Co. and M2M LLC, alleging negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty.

What led up to this case, and what will Lamont need to prove in order to win?

Mushroom Burger With a Side of Bristle

Lamont received a free grill brush made by Precision Brush and sold by M2M LLC with the purchase of a ManGrate barbecue grill in 2011. The Lamonts used the grill on a weekly basis for a year. On August 19, 2012, Mr. Lamont used the grill brush to clean the grill before cooking a mushroom burger. By this time, the brush had corroded. A bristle broke off and embedded in Mrs. Lamont's mushroom burger.

Mrs. Lamont ingested the bristle with her mushroom burger, and experienced severe pain when the bristle lodged in her esophagus. The stuck bristle required surgery to remove.

Lamont isn't alone in her misery. Between March 2011 and June 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on six other cases in which people ingested broken grill brush bristles. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said it was reviewing grill brush-related injuries to determine whether a pattern of product defect could pose an unreasonable risk of injury or death to consumers.

If the case proceeds to court, here's what Lamont will likely need to prove for each of her allegations:

  • To prove negligence, Lamont will have to show the companies had a duty to create a safe grill brush and breached that duty (for example, by allegedly using a highly corrosive material that could break). Lamont will also need to show that the breach actually caused her injuries.
  • To prove strict liability, Lamont will have to show that the brush had an unreasonably dangerous defect that caused her injury when she used it for its intended purpose.
  • To prove a breach of an implied warranty of merchantability (one type of breach of warranty), Lamont has to be able to show that the brush was not fit to perform the task it was sold to do.

Lawyers for Precision Brush Co. and M2M LLC will probably be looking into whether Lamont did anything wrong in her use of the product, which could work as a potential defense. In the latest development, the companies' lawyers successfully argued to remove the case from state to federal court, which is common in cases like this.

As you can see, injury cases involving products can get complicated. If this happens to you, an experienced lawyer can review your case and help you figure out the best way to proceed.

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